The world’s biggest furniture retailer IKEA is found guilty of improperly gathering and storing data of its employees.
Consequently, a French court has ordered IKEA to pay a €1 million (US $ 1.21 million) fine for spying on its French staff.
As per reports, the French branch of the Swedish company was accused of snooping on its workers for several years, and breaching their privacy by reviewing records of their bank accounts and sometimes using fake employees to write reports on staff.
Worker representatives said the information was sometimes used to target union leaders and sometimes to IKEA’s advantage in disputes with customers, after the firm trawled data on people’s finances and even what cars they drove.
It was also found to have paid for access to police files.
Prosecutors had been pushing for a €2 million fine. Lawyers for France’s CGT union and several individuals seeking compensation said the penalty amount was not hefty, but still welcomed the decision.
The company said it was reviewing the court decision to see if further measures were needed, after it took steps to stamp out the surveillance tactics.
“IKEA Retail France has strongly condemned the practices, apologised and implemented a major action plan to prevent this from happening again,” the Ingka group said.
IKEA employs around 10,000 people in France, its third biggest market after Germany and the US, and has experimented with new formats there, including a store launched in 2019 in the heart of Paris.
Its chief executive in France, Jean-Louis Baillot was found guilty in the case and handed a two-year suspended prison sentence. Judges fined him €50,000 for storing personal data.
The allegations centred on the 2009-2012 period, although prosecutors said the spying tactics began in the early 2000s.
Two of the accused were found not guilty of all charges against them, including a police officer, and Stefan Vanoverbeke, who ran IKEA in France from 2010 to 2015 and still has a senior position in the Group’s retail operations.